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Microsoft patents to do lists

Lawsuits planned against the forgetful?
Thu Jun 10 2004, 07:02
SOFTWARE PATCH EXPERT Microsoft has got a patent on 'to-do' lists, which could require you to buy licence if you leave notes in your code. The US Patent Office, God bless it, has given Vole US Patent No. 6,748,582 which covers the use of a "task list" in a software-development environment.

The new patent, says, is specific enough to allow software developers that make up lists in their code don't have to be too concerned. But it might be better if you don't use the phrase 'to do' anywhere in the code.

Software developers that build up shopping lists on their PDAs might also want to be sure that there is not a Microsoft legal beagle waiting to pounce on them from the baked bean display at the supermarket. It might be better to scribble it out on the back of a fag packet.

The US patent office has been getting a lot of stick lately because some of the IT patents it has awarded have been wide enough to drive a bus through. This is coupled with the fact that Microsoft has been trying to squeeze more cash from its R&D departments by getting its work patented. It is currently in talks with over 100 companies who might have suddenly found themselves using something that the patent office thinks came from the Lair of the Vole, in Redmond. µ


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